President Obama just completed his address to the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington. Given the context, it was an important and dramatic speech. Here is the text. It deserves the closest attention.
I offer ten theses based on the text of the two speeches, in no particular order, with no claim to originality:
1. Obama’s statement of his principles for a deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs did not belong in his speech on developments in the Arab world. Its inclusion was a mistake — not from Obama’s perspective, but from the perspective of the national interest of the United States.
2. The Arab Spring demonstrates the marginal nature of the problem of the Palestinian Arabs in the Arab world. For Obama to inject it after the damage he has already done is an act of ego and malice.
3. Obama is urging Israel to negotiate with a Hamas/Fatah government, if not with Hamas. “[N]o matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under the current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option. The status quo is unsustainable.”
4. Obama makes a point of demanding a “contiguous” Palestinian state. Such a state can only come at the cost of a contiguous Israel. A “contiguous” Palestinian state would bisect Israel between Gaza and the disputed territories.
5. Obama implicitly favors the redivision of Jerusalem as part of his proposal.
6. Obama doesn’t mention the persistent Palestinian demand for a “right of return.” In his discussion of the demographic considerations that support a peace agreement, Obama implicitly rejects it. Yet he will not say so publicly. Israel cannot agree to it and the Palestinians have never given it up.
7. Obama is not only urging Israel to negotiate with a Hamas/Fatah government, he is setting up the United States to support the jihadist governments that will result from the Arab Spring.
8. Obama’s two speeches implicitly commit the United States to veto the Palestinian bid for national recognition by the UN this September.
9. Obama leaves the commitment implicit in order to maximize his leverage against Israel and keep his options open.
10. Obama intensely dislikes Israel, not just Prime Minister Netanyahu. His dislike comes through in the anger with which he asserts the pro-Israel commitments that precede his discussion of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. My guess is that it also came through in his famous tribute to Rashid Khalidi, the videotape of which is still kept under lock and key by the Los Angeles Times.
The status of President Bush’s 2004 commitments to Israel in the context of the pullout from Gaza is left ambiguous. It remains a matter of educated conjecture. It is another one of the matters not expressly addressed in Obama’s two speeches. Reporting from the AIPAC policy conference, Ronald Radosh has posted a valuable assessment of Obama’s AIPAC speech. Radosh takes up the question of Obama’s attitude to these commitments,
The text of Obama’s AIPAC speech does not convey Obama’s obvious anger and defensiveness. Meryl Yourish captures some of this in her live blog post on the speech. Below is the first half of the speech; the second half is posted here..
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